News & Announcements
Mark Sicoli, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics published a paper “Differential coding of perception in the world’s languages” in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where it is demonstrated that, contrary to longstanding assumptions of western science, languages do not universally encode a hierarchy of the senses with sight and hearing privileged over touch, taste, and smell. Working with 20 world languages including 3 sign languages the research found that languages differ widely in what senses are lexically elaborated with differences best explained through cultural preoccupations rather than appeal to biological universals. The article is available here: http://www.pnas.org/content/115/45/11369
Vikram Jaswal, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Nameera Akhtar, Professor of Psychology at UC-Santa Cruz, published a paper in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, challenging social motivation explanations and interventions in autism. In making their argument, they rely extensively on the testimony of autistic people who describe themselves as very interested in other people and frustrated that their behavior is so often misinterpreted. The target article is available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X18001826, and several commentaries and a reply will be published later this year or next. A UVa Today story about the work is available at https://news.virginia.edu/content/autistic-people-do-want-socialize-they-may-just-show-it-differently.
With deep sadness we announce the death of our colleague John Bonvillian. John was a developmental psycholinguist who retired from the UVa Psychology Department in 2016. He was influential in founding UVa's ASL program, and he served for several years as director of the Linguistics Program.
John will be remembered for teaching many generations of college students, collaborating enthusiastically with grad students, and delighting everyone who knew him with the colorful stories (about everything!) that he so loved to share.
At the time of his passing John was still actively at work on a three-volume dictionary of simplified signs, which he had been developing toward the end of his career. His research showed that speech-accompanying manual signs, especially iconic signs, could be immensely helpful for those acquiring language. He was dedicated to this project because he was convinced it could enhance the quality of life for those who have a limited ability to speak, such as children with autism, Down Syndrome, or cerebral palsy. He hoped to extend the use of simplified signs to learning foreign-language vocabulary items as well. You can read more about John's work in the obituary that ran in the Charlottesville Daily Progress on May 13, 2018.
A memorial service is planned for early fall.
On Wednesday, April 25, Dr. Sinfree Makoni, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and African Studies at Pennsylvania State University, gave a talk on "Socio-Applied Linguistics From the Global South: Issues and Challenges":
Looking at applied linguistics from the perspective of the Global South opens up a range of issues and ways of thinking about what languages are, how they are used, and what can be accomplished with their use. Southern epistemologies reveal how terms such as "vernacular", "local language", "indigenous language", and "mother tongue" are part of the colonial order. Though seeing socio-applied linguistics through Southern epistemologies brings certain challenges, it can help denaturalize and decolonize some of these terms.
The talk was co-sponsored by the African Urbanism Humanities Lab, the African Studies Colloquium, the Carter G. Wodoson Institute for African-American and African Studies, and the Linguistics Program.
On Friday, March 16, Dr. Anna Marie Trester will run a workshop on bringing linguistics skills to the workplace. Bringing Linguistics to Work is designed to get students of Linguistics thinking about the transferable skills they are currently acquiring and how these apply outside the academy. The world of work needs critical thinkers who deal in abstractions and ambiguity. It needs cross-cultural competency and lack of prescriptivism, flexibility and adaptability, and readiness to embrace change and complexity. Perhaps more than anything, the world of work needs people who are trained to think in systems – people who see puzzles and can find the underlying patterns and processes that structure visible and apparently chaotic surface representations in any domain. We can take our skills and training anywhere, but only to the extent that we recognize them ourselves and make them understood.
Participants in this workshop will be given the tools to bring a linguistic perspective to the texts and interactions that structure their job search. They will hear about people who are bringing linguistics to work in non-academic settings. They will be given the opportunity to practice attending to the language they use in their professional self-presentation in resumes, cover letters, job interviews, and networking interactions. They will leave with a clearer sense of the many ways in which the skills they are cultivating in school may be applied to settings both known and not yet imagined.
Dr. Anna Marie Trester is an interactional sociolinguist who has worked as a trainer at the FrameWorks Institute, a social change communications firm, and served as director of the Language and Communication MA program at Georgetown University. She has published in venues such as Text and Talk, Language and Society, and The Journal of Sociolinguistics. She is co-editor (with Deborah Tannen) of Discourse 2.0: Language and New Media (2013) and author of Bringing Linguistics to Work (2017). She received her MA in linguistics from NYU in 2002 and her PhD from Georgetown in 2008.
The workshop will be held on Friday, March 16, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in Brooks Hall Commons, with a reception to follow.
The Curry School of Education has announced a new Ph.D. concentration, Language Education in Multilingual Contexts, to provide training to researchers and teachers on a variety of aspects of K-12 language education, including teaching of English as a second language, teaching foreign languages to native English speakers, and teaching bilingual and multilingual learners. The program will begin enrolling students in fall 2018.
Lise Dobrin, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics Program Director, and Mark Sicoli, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Linguistics, have been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to partner with tribal colleges serving Dakota communities in South Dakota and Nebraska on language preservation. The multi-year grant will allow the University of Virginia and Sisseton Wahpeton Tribal College (SWC) and other institutions in South Dakota and Nebraska to collaborate on language preservation and revitalization, focused on Dakota, an endangered Siouan language, as well as capacity-building at tribal colleges and universities.
Mark Sicoli, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Linguistics, presented his research on linguistic evidence for the Beringia "standstill hypothesis" at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston over the past weekend. Mark and his work with Anna Berge (University of Alaska) and Gary Holton (University of Hawaii) are featured in this UVA Today article. Coverage of Mark's work is also featured in The Economist, New Historian, Laboratory Equipment, and Phys.org.
Lise Dobrin, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Linguistics Program, was featured in the Linguistic Society of America's February Member Spotlight.
VISAS (Volunteers with International Students, Staff, and Scholars) is calling for both native English speaking students to looking to volunteer as English teachers and conversation partners, and for international students looking to practice their English. This program, run through the Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC), offers many rewarding opportunities for cross-cultural communication and learning.
Peter Baker (English Department) has translated Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland into Old English. The translation, published by Evertype, will be released later this year. Congratulations to Prof. Baker!
Full citation: Hlóðwíg Carroll [Lewis Carroll], Æðelgýðe Ellendaéda on Wundorlande. Translated into Old English by Peter S. Baker. Illustrated by Byron W. Sewell. Forthcoming, Portlaoise: Evertype, 2015.
Jacob Sonin, a speaker of Cemaun Arapesh, an endangered language in Papua New Guinea, has joined UVa for the Spring 2015 semester to serve as a consultant for the Field Methods course as well as the Arapesh Grammar and Digital Language Archive (AGDLA), curated by Prof. Lise Dobrin. See the article IATH has written here.
UVA students have the exciting opportunity to learn about Maya K'iche' (KICH 5010) this Fall 2015 through the Duke-UVa-Vanderbilt Consortium for Less Commonly Taught Languages. Students will learn the scripts, syntax, material cultures and literary forms of Maya K'iche'. Maya K'iche' is the language of more than 1 million people in Guatemala, the language used by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú in her critique against the Guatemalan state, and the language of the Mesoamerican cosmology, the Popol Vuh. Contact Allison Bigelow in Spanish, Italian, & Portuguese for more information.